I’d like to tell you all what I really think of New Year’s Resolutions.
They can kiss my I’ve-somehow-determined-I-must-shape-and-define-for-2022-ASS.
I believe that this time honored tradition of listing the changes we want to make, proclaiming our resolutions for the new year is designed for failure. Especially, if you live in the Midwest.
Let me explain.
In our sparkly outfits and champagne toasts, we make this pledge for a new start during the darkest days of the year. We try to begin workout habits when it’s frigid outside. I live in Kansas. I am not about to take a walk before or after work when it is 1. Pitch black outside 2. Fucking freezing. Yes, I could do a workout video or walk on a treadmill, but my circadian rhythm says, “we sleep when it’s dark.” During the first days of the year, we have a dip in our finances because of the money we’ve spent on the holidays, and we’re trying to conjure the inspiration to make better food choices, join a gym, or take a class on a limited budget. It doesn’t make sense, like naturally or logically.
The year has seasons. So do you. This is winter. So hunker down. Get still and quiet. And hibernate. Go within.
Here’s what I propose…
- Put your resolutions away. (We’ll bring them out later.)
I had to. My family got Covid (for the second time) and we all had to quarantine and rest. I could not spend any of that time feeling guilty for lost “new me” time. My list was an opportunity to just feel bad about not doing said list.
If you are going to start any “new” habit at the beginning of January, the one I would recommend is to start a meditation practice. In this stillness, in this quiet, release the idea of what you “should” be and sit in who you are. Just breathe. Allow your thoughts to go in and out while breathing. If you are new to this practice, this is what I recommend:
Sit with your back straight and your palms up on your knees. Close your eyes.
Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, release the breath for 4 counts. Do this 4 times.
Then count silently to 100, 3 times. There, you’ve meditated for 5 minutes.
That’s it. Just do that for as many days in a row that you can. If thoughts distract you, that’s fine. You have a brain that is made to think, just try to keep from hooking into any of the images or thoughts for too long. If you get too distracted, go back to counting. Once you’ve gotten used to sitting in the quiet, try out some guided mediations. Jason Stephenson on YouTube is a go-to for me. What we are doing is embracing the long darkness of the days and finding what we REALLY want in the quiet.
To whatever god or universe you believe in, I suggest this simple prayer:
Guide me towards my joy.
This is such a great prayer because it is general. It includes everything…
Your relationships, your goals, your job, your health, your hope for the planet.
All of it is in this ask.
I truly believe that you will then start to notice the things that light up your life. And you will be inspired to do more of THAT. In the dark, this connection to a Higher Power can only energize you and point you toward the direction of the light.
Get a new journal. Splurge. Buy one that makes you feel good just hearing the crinkle of the pages. Get a good pen. (My friend, Kristi, bought me these amazing markers that are better than markers because they’re like pens, but not ink pens, (I think you get it) for Christmas. I loooove them.) Get a new set of pens, pencils, markers, whatever…just make it feel good so that you are tempted to use them on the crisp pages of your new journal. Write what comes to you after a morning meditation or before you go to bed to dream, write out your experience of the day. If it was good, write a thank you to the universe, if it wasn’t good, still write thank you and add how you can do better tomorrow. The trick is to write something. Be honest. Don’t write as if someone was going to read it. Write your truth. And see what comes up. Maybe new resolutions will be part of this process. Write about your future. What you’d like to see. Begin to gather pictures of what it is you want to create for yourself and for others in the new year. Images and/or words that make your heart happy every time you gaze on them. And then…
- Make a Vision Board
Take a piece of poster board, glue, scissors, and markers and all of the pictures you have gathered and have your elementary school art class afternoon.
Create a Vision Board of all of the things you want to see and experience. Glue the cut out words or phrases that make you happy or inspire you on the poster board. Add pictures of toes in the sand or singing on stage or traveling to Milan or writing a novel or feeding the hungry or losing the weight or winning the game. As long as these words and images bring you joy. Not fear. Not pain. Not judgment. JOY. Put them into a collage and place it where you will see it everyday.
I have 2 Vision Board stories.
The first happened when I was 28-29. I was auditioning in LA, hoping to make it as an actress at the time. I made a Vision Board for 2002. Besides having inspirational words and quotes, it included pictures of well known actors, a stage, and a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the center. I didn’t work with any of the actors on the Vision Board, but within a week, I had seen all of them. One at a mall, one at a grocery store, one getting coffee. I was cast in a play and loved my time on stage. Then a year later, I went to Italy with my mom for my 30th birthday. In one way or another, I had experienced most of what was on my Vision Board within less than 2 years.
The other story was shocking because I had no idea that this was a Vision Board, but I had walked by it every day for 3 years. I had a collage of pictures of myself in NYC on a wall in my house. I had always wanted to live in the Big Apple, but I wasn’t sure how to without a really good job or an acting gig. So I just fantasied about it and moved on. I had gone to NYC in 2006 and taken a bunch of pictures of myself at iconic locations – Broadway, Central Park, Lincoln Center, etc. and put them in a photo tree and placed it in my hallway. Then 3 years later, when I was packing my apartment to move to the Upper West Side in Manhattan, I went to pack the collage. I had pictures of myself just 4 blocks from the apartment I was moving to in that collage. I had pictures of myself by the fountain in Central Park that I would walk to every day for the next 7 years. It was pretty amazing to discover that my subconscious had absorbed those images and transformed them into my reality.
Vision Boards work. And they work stealthily. Quietly invading your subconscious and manifesting into your reality. Sometimes you don’t even know it’s happening until you look at your board and realize that those things have actually come into fruition.
Make your Vision Board and then allow your meditation to shift. Ask this question as you close your eyes and breathe deeply, “what do I need to make my vision a reality?” Listen in the stillness for the answers. When inspired, visit your old list of resolutions and make adjustments where necessary. Begin to gather the seeds. What needs to grow? What do you want to see bloom over the next year? Begin digging in the dirt and planting all of the what was gathered in the quiet stillness of the winter. Plant the seeds of your vision. The days start to lengthen. The sun stays out longer. The ice melts. We start to feel like exercising. We write our pages before going to work. We hold our child’s hand a little longer. We have the difficult conversation. We make room for the new because Spring is here.
THE THING IS…
Change is hard enough without the expectation of beginning at 12:01 AM January 1st and staying with it. Don’t resist natures clock. Fuck those resolutions and go within. See what’s in winter’s quiet. And as always…
Stay COZY. Be WARM.